That sound you heard was How I Met Your Mother delivering the penultimate slap to Barney’s mug on Monday night’s episode.
The latest chapter in the saga takes the form of a fable that relocates Marshall to a faraway land as he aims to learn The Slap of a Thousand Exploding Suns from three masters who happen to look a lot like his friends.
His year-long quest begins with The Cruel Tutelage of Red Bird (Cobie Smulders, working her Asian costume and makeup). She escorts him to the legendary slapping tree and instructs him to deliver a blow. No problem, right? The tree ends up slapping Marshall instead. But he manages to pass his final test, slapping Red Bird with fiery speed.
Lily The Punishing Scholarship of White Flower atop Slap Mountain. She sends Marshall to get slapped by Barney’s conquests (hello, parade of returning guest stars, including Stacy Keibler and Nazanin Boniadi!) so he can harness their anger. That will give him the strength to destroy Barney’s face.
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Finally, he goes to see The Calligrapher in Cleveland. While the previous masters had aspects of Robin and Lily, the latter of who can definitely harness some anger in her “You’re dead to me” stare, The Calligrapher is basically Ted, right down to his quest to find a girl. When he starts to choke, Marshall steps up to save his life. But without having learned accuracy yet, he slaps the heart right out of him. Still, he’s got 10-15 minutes to dispense some wisdom, advise him which Cleveland monuments to visit and make awkward small talk until he finally plays dead just to end their uncomfortable misery.
It all brings us to the wedding weekend, circa Sunday 1 am, when Marshall actually fails to make contact with Barney’s face since he never completed his third lesson. But — smack! — it’s all a ruse; in the woods, in the presence of four women, a willow tree and a “tiger,” Marshall delivers the latest slap in spectacular slow-mo fashion. And there’s still one more!
With that — and an amazing Boyz II Men remix of “You Just Got Slapped” — the distinctly different “Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmara” comes to an end after much visual gags, build-up and slappery.
HIMYM fans, what did you think of the episode? How did it compare to the previous Slap Bet outings? And what was your favorite joke? Grade the half-hour via the poll below and then hit the comments to back up your pick.Follow @VladaGelman